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COHN: Theories about Raiders, 49ers news all wet

  • San Francisco 49ers offensive consultant Eric Mangini walks off the field after practice at an NFL football training camp in Santa Clara, Calif., Tuesday, June 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

I guess this is a criticism of sports journalism. This probably means I'm criticizing myself.

In the past few weeks, journalists reported on two local developments — the firing of Raiders public-relations operative Zak Gilbert, and the 49ers' hiring of Eric Mangini as an offensive consultant. Local journalists tried to explain the meaning of both circumstances.

I find their explanations all wet. And I find one other thing. Once an all-wet theory gets started, lots of journalists take it as gospel and run with it. I've done it myself, although not in these cases.

The Zak Gilbert Theory: According to this Apocryphal Gospel, Raiders owner Mark Davis did not fire Gilbert for anything bad he did on the job — that would have been the normal reason to fire a guy. On the contrary, Davis fired Gilbert to send general manager Reggie McKenzie a message of some sort.

Look, Davis was wrong to fire Gilbert, but he fired Gilbert for cause, for what Davis perceived as failures on the job. Davis did not fire Gilbert because of some beef he has with McKenzie — and Gilbert was McKenzie's guy.

If Davis wanted to send a message to McKenzie he could have walked into his office and told him. I mean, they work in the same building.

Davis knows where McKenzie's office is. And, get this, Davis knows how to talk.

The Oakland Trib's Monte Poole interviewed Davis for his Sunday column and asked if he was sending a message to McKenzie by firing the PR guy. “Not at all,” Davis said. “I understand what Reggie is trying to do. Reggie's fine. He's the one guy that I've hired. I've got to give him room to do his job.”

In other words, the delivering-a-message theory is all wet. Yet, after it got going, it spread like heat rash among local sports writers.

As did the story line about the 49ers' recent hire.

The Eric Mangini Theory: Several sports writers, people I respect, came up with the far-fetched theory — maybe with help from the tricky Niners — that Jim Harbaugh hired Mangini as an “offensive consultant” to help Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman game plan against opponents.

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